Is Newfoundland and Labrador at risk of seeing a case of Ebola? No. Nor is the rest of Canada. But, if there were to be a case in the great white north, there is a good chance it would be here in Newfoundland.
Ok, so why?
Newfoundland is a popular place for airplanes making international flights to stop and refuel. If there was a flight coming from Western African headed somewhere in North America, there is a fair chance they would stop for fuel on the rock. If anyone on that flight became symptomatic, they would have to be quarantined where they landed. And that means here.
If a patient were to land anywhere in the province and be either a suspected Ebola case or a confirmed case, they would be transported to either the Janeway Children’s Hospital or the Health Sciences Centre as outlined today by the provincial government in an Ebola press conference.
Another reason we may be the first to see a case is the amount of people we have travelling internationally for work and returning home. Africa has many large offshore oilrigs and mining jobs. Some of which are staffed by Newfoundlanders who regularly return home during their off time.
Newfoundland and Labrador, like all other provinces and territories, are taking measures to ensure that if the unthinkable happens, they are more than prepared:
“Our province has undertaken a number of actions to enhance preparedness should a potential case of Ebola present itself. Work is ongoing between the Department of Health and Community Services and regional health authorities to strengthen readiness, and ensure strong infection control systems and procedures are in place. Our health care workers on the front lines will be essential to containing this disease if it does reach our province, and I want to assure them that training and equipment is a top priority. Their protection and the protection of the public is our number one focus.”
– The Honourable Steve Kent, Minister of Health and Community Services
Here are some quick facts about Ebola virus disease and the steps our province is taking to keep us safe, as per the provincial government:
- The Provincial Government continues to monitor the global Ebola situation and implement best practices and training for health care workers.
- The Ebola virus itself does not spread easily from person to person; it is not like the flu. Ebola is spread by touching body fluids, for example blood, saliva, secretions of a person sick with the disease or someone who has died from it.
- Work is ongoing between the Department of Health and Community Services and regional health authorities to strengthen readiness, and ensure strong infection control systems and procedures are in place.
- Measures that are in place to help prepare for a possible response include ongoing communication with federal and provincial counterparts; mandatory training for health care workers; designation of the Health Sciences Centre and Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre as the main referral sites for suspected cases of Ebola; and, procurement of additional personal protective equipment.
- Individuals who have recently visited the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, where there are Ebola outbreaks, and are feeling ill, are advised to call the Newfoundland and Labrador HealthLine at 1-888-709-2929 before presenting to a physician’s office or emergency department.
Canada is at a very low risk for seeing a case of Ebola, but Newfoundland and Labrador must be prepared for the reality that we may indeed be the first ones to see it if it does happen. The planning and precautions being taken by the province and regional health authorities is very encouraging and comforting.
Now everyone go rent Outbreak.